Aesop's Fables

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  • Topic: Aesop's Fables, Fable, Moral
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  • Published : July 22, 2008
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Aesop’s Fables
From early childhood children begin to learn the ways of the world. They learn what society expects from them as well as morals and humility. Aesop's Fables are a great collection of influencing tales that teach children about right and wrong, good and bad, kindness and meanness, generosity and greediness, just to name a few. In fact, fables and fairy tales have been used throughout history as a popular method in the instructions of developing good morals. These stories point out right from wrong, as well as wisdom by which to live life. From Aesop’s Fables come the lessons in life that one never forgets. The story of the Tortoise and the Hare teaches children perseverance. The story of the Boy Who Cried Wolf teaches children the dangers of lying. These stories come from a time of very different lives and social rules, yet they are still a very important tool for learning today for both children and adults.

The story of the life of Aesop is somewhat controversial. Some say that he did not exist, while others say he did exist, but was not the actual creator of the fables, but just gathered them together. The best evidence we have on Aesop's life comes from off hand remarks in early ancient sources like Herodotus, Aristotle, Aristophanes and Plato. Several different places claim the honor of being his place of birth. Following you will find the most popular version of Aesop’s history I was able to find.

Aesop was born a slave around 620 BC in Phyrgia and then moved to Samos. He is thought to have been a hunchback with a speech impediment. Aesop had two masters. The second recognized his intelligence and wit. He eventually freed Aesop. Freed slaves were allowed to participate in civic activities as well as travel. Aesop did both. He made his way to Sardis, which was ruled by King Croesus. Croesus was also impressed with Aesop’s intelligence, so he allowed him to study with other wise men of the times. Eventually Croesus began to send Aesop on diplomatic missions for Sardis. On his final mission to Delphi, Croesus asked Aesop to deliver some gold to the people there. Unfortunately Aesop was disgusted by the greed that the Delphi people showed so he sent the gold back. When the townspeople heard what he had done, he was killed like a common criminal and flung over a cliff. It is said that the town suffered a series of catastrophic mishaps which they blamed on the murder of Aesop, calling it “beset with the blood of Aesop”.

A fable is a succinct story, in prose or verse, that features animals, plants, inanimate objects, or forces of nature which are anthropomorphized (given human qualities), and that illustrates a moral lesson. Aesop’s fables continued to be past down through oral tradition until about 300 BC when an Athenian politician named Demetrius Phalereus compiled about two hundred of the stories in the book Assemblies of Aesop. About three centuries later the book was translated into Latin for wider consumption. About 230 AD a Greek poet combined Aesop’s fables with Indian fables to create the literature that is widely known and read today. It has been translated several times to different languages, but the lesson stays the same.

Aesop’s fables began as stories that reflected philosophical thought. In the fourth century BC, Demetrius first recorded the fables as a handbook for writers and speakers. Each fable was preceded by a brief interpretation of the fable to help the writer or speaker deliver his message without having to read the entire fable. Because the only accepted literature of the times was poetry, the fables were eventually put into verse by the Roman Phaedrus (in Latin) and Babrius ( in Greek). The charming collection by Babrius remains the most widely read collection today. His collection was translated to English by William Caxton on March 26th 1484. Caxton was the first printer of books in England. His edition was later brought...
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